Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
News reports documented in recent years anti-Jewish sermons in Canadian mosques and Islamic literature that contains anti-Semitic messages. The exposure of the younger generation of the Canadian Muslim community to such messages may lead to the development of basic hostility toward the Jewish people, Israel, and Israelis/Zionists (in many cases used as euphemism for Jews), who are described by some in the Canadian Muslim community and religious leaders as the enemy of Islam and humanity.
Tarek Ramadan, an imam of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) in Vancouver, [not to be confused with Prof. Tariq Ramadan of Switzerland] refutes the historical claim of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, claiming that the entire territory of Palestine, including the present State of Israel, is land holy to Islam, and it only belongs to the Muslims.
Tarek Ramadan, an imam of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) in Vancouver and leader of the local community, has played an active part in organizing and leading demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel.
MAC explains below the foundations of the ideology that it follows:1
The origins of MAC are deeply anchored within the message of the Prophet Mohammed. Its modern roots can be found in the intense effort toward an [intellectual] revival that occurred within Muslim societies at the beginning of the twentieth century. This revival was intended to create a bridge between faith and the challenges of modernism and to provide a clear boundary of balance and modernization for the understanding of Islam. In the Arab world, this [ideological] revival reached its peak in the letters of the late Imam Hassan al-Banna [founder of the Muslim Brotherhood].
On July 28, 2017, Tarek Ramadan was one of the organizers of a demonstration in Vancouver under the banner, “Stand together for al-Aqsa.”2 Besides Tarek Ramadan, the list of speakers at the event included Mohammed Kallas from Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Sid Shnaid from Independent Jewish Voices, Rabbi David Mivasair, Marianne Harris from the United Church of Canada, Hanna Kawas, chairman of the Canada Palestine Association, Musa Ismail, president of the Pakistan Canada Association, and Karen DeVito from the Canada Flotilla to Gaza-2011.3
Before and after his speech, Tarek Ramadan led the crowd of participants in chants of “Long live Palestine. Long live the intifada. Long live the resistance. Long live the resistance… With soul and blood we will redeem you, Al Aqsa!’ (بروح بالدم نفديك يا اقصى)”
Here is an excerpt from Ramadan’s speech:
You [Israel] are with the guns, the wars on the border, you are the ones shooting people. You came to this land and look at it now after you took over. Why do you call the people who defend their land terrorists when you are occupying the territories, and the United Nations says this is a Palestinian territories? So it’s like you coming to my home, you invade my house, and you say I have historical rights to be here. You come with a gun, but when I pull out a knife to defend my family, you call me a terrorist. It doesn’t make any sense. And when you look at the map, where is Palestine on this map? You can hardly see [it]. Five million Jews to 15 or 16 million Christians, I’m sorry, Palestinians, Muslims, and Christians live on less than 15 percent of the land. So, I have a test for you, I said. Yasser Arafat, in the Oslo Agreement in 1992, he signed on 15 percent of the land in Oslo Agreement with President Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin, he signed on 15 percent, he signed on enough bloodshed. We want to live and let live. The Palestinians did not shoot Yasser Arafat for signing on 15 percent [of the land], but you guys shot Yitzhak Rabin for signing on 85 percent of the land. So, who is really causing terrorism? It is not the Palestinians. Quit talk like this.
So how do you solve this problem? You solve this problem by explaining, by educating, by raising awareness that there is no such a thing that is called the State of Israel. It is a fake state. It is an illegal state. And that al-Aqsa [Mosque], Jerusalem, the holy city, should be in the custody of the land of the Palestinians, especially the Muslims. And I’m not saying this because of any reason except that Islam teaches us to respect all humanity, to respect people of all backgrounds. When it was a Muslim land, when it was under the custody of the Muslims you never heard about genocide against Christians.
I challenge you. You never heard about genocide against Jews who were living there or anybody. It was peaceful. When the Crusaders went there, it was a bloodshed for 90 years, and when the Jews took over, see for yourselves what is happening. So, the real problem have to be solved by restoring custody to the Palestinian Arabs and the Muslims to take over the holy land and to be under their custody, because they respect the prophet Moses and Jesus and everybody. That’s it. We are not going to be wishy-washy about it. We are not going to waste time on this. That is the real solution to the problem.
At the end of the demonstration, Tarek Ramadan conducted a prayer service.4 Below is a translation from Arabic of part of the prayer:
Oh Allah, help al-Aqsa and the Muslims.
Oh Allah, help al-Aqsa and the Muslims.
Oh Allah, grant victory [assistance] to the Muslims in Palestine
Oh Allah, assist al-Aqsa in Palestine against the hated [evil] Jews and against the criminal Zionists.
Oh Allah, destroy the enemies of religion [Islam].
Oh Allah, destroy the enemies of humanity.
Oh Allah, grant victory [assistance] to your soldiers, the fighters of Jihad…
Oh Allah, destroy the enemies of Islam.
In a Friday sermon, delivered on the same day (July 28, 2017) at the MAC Centre in Vancouver, Tarek Ramadan stated the following:5
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, as I’ve said, is a trust placed in the hands of every Muslim. It is now invaded by an impure gang of Israelites (عصابة دنسة من بني اسرائيل). It is now under a gang of the worst kind of Mankind – if you can even call them Mankind, those Zionists, who have no mercy, no respect, no holiness, no respect for anybody, for any humanity… So it is our duty, an individual duty that we all share their Jihad and their struggle against the Zionists, by all means necessary – by all legal means and any Islamic means… the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, the city, and all of Palestine should only be in the custody of the Muslims. It should not be in the custody of the Christians, the Jews, or anybody else. I don’t care what anybody else says. It should only be in the custody of Muslims.
Tareq Ramadan, an activist of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) which draws ideological inspiration from the teachings of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna, presents in a speech, sermon, and prayer delivered on July 28, 2017, his general opinion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Jewish people, Zionists, and Israel. Ramadan’s claims are based on Islam and erroneous and unfounded historical, demographic, and geographic data.
[Editor’s Note: In May 2018, British Columbia’s Premier, John Horgan, rescinded a certificate of recognition for a firebrand Vancouver imam after his statements were uncovered by Bnai Brith Canada and MEMRI.6]
In his statements, Ramadan refutes the historical claim of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, claiming that the entire territory of Palestine, including the present State of Israel, is land holy to Islam, and it only belongs to the Muslims.
Ramadan claims that the solution to the conflict can only be reached by transferring the territory of the State of Israel to Islamic rule, meaning to a Muslim state that would follow Islamic law (Sharia), which would dictate relations with the Jewish and Christian communities, giving them no government position.
Ramadan refers to Israel as an “illegal” and “terrorist” state, and based on this, he justifies and expresses support for the Palestinian struggle, including the intifada, as expressed through a range of combative activities, such as armed confrontation and terror attacks.
Ramadan’s hostility is directed toward “the Jews,” whom he says are “hateful” (also translated as spiteful, malicious and contemptuous) and “the Zionists,” whom he describes as “an impure gang of Israelites” and “a gang of the worst kind of Mankind.” With such expressions, “the Jews” and “the Zionists” become dehumanized.
Ramadan’s expressions are particularly significant because he is a religious figure who receives extensive support from the Muslim community in Vancouver. Furthermore, they were heard from Muslim community leaders who played an active part in the demonstration. They did not protest his calls for wiping Israel off the map and denying the Jewish people the right to live in the Land of Israel, or his support for the intifada. If anything, it appears that they identified with these messages.
News reports documented in recent years anti Jewish sermons in Canadian mosques and Islamic literature that contains anti Jewish messages. The exposure of the younger generation of the Canadian Muslim community to such messages may lead to the development of basic hostility toward the Jewish people, Israel and Israelis/Zionists (in many cases used as euphemism for Jews), who are described by some Canadian Muslim community and religious leaders as the enemy of Islam and humanity.